How Scottie Scheffler took down the only men who could stop him at the Masters

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How Scottie Scheffler took down the only men who could stop him at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — One clenched his jaw. Another smiled. One walked with a sauntering focus.

The walk from the Augusta National driving range to the golf cart is a snapshot into the mindset of the final groups at the Masters. The cart will drive them to the clubhouse, which they’ll walk through on the way to the first tee.

Collin Morikawa jutted out his jaw, gritting his teeth as he chewed gum deep in the back of his molars. He was in another world. He stared forward without making eye contact with another human and hopped in the back of the cart. He was one shot back and in the final group at the Masters. He threw one leg up on the back of the cart and maintained that dazed stare as it took him to slaughter.

Max Homa was simply intense, less dazed than lasered in. He was two shots back with 18 holes to go. Ludvig Åberg seemed oh so normal, smiling and waving to the crowd. He laughed with his team of coaches and appeared unfazed by it all.

And then there was Scottie Scheffler. He finished chipping and walked to the cart. He looked around and soaked it all in. He was happy and loose, the exact opposite of the man he would share the final pairing with. He saw his parents and sisters waiting and released a hearty laugh. He sat in the front seat with the driver and smiled as he gave his agent, Blake Smith, a big thumbs-up.

Maybe it was over before it began. Three of the best players in golf had their shot at Scottie Scheffler. All four were tied with 12 holes to go.

Here’s how Scheffler took them all down.

He didn’t have his fastball. The best iron player of his generation couldn’t hit a green. Scheffler missed it on hole No. 1 and flew a ball into the crowd on 2. His drive found a bunker on 3. He airmailed the green on 4, and the disbelief drew him to laughter. By the time he bogeyed the seventh hole, Scheffler, Morikawa, Homa and Åberg were tied at 6 under par. This was going to be an epic Masters finish.

Then, Morikawa got greedy.

And Scheffler found it.

Morikawa’s drive on No. 9 put him in the right-side trees and needing to find a way up the 30-foot-high green from the pine straw. He knew better. But he went for the green anyway, instead hitting too low of a line into the front of the mound and rolling into the bunker. He was screwed.

And that was when Scheffler hit a perfect, beautiful 89-yard wedge that landed center green and just kept rolling backward. It rolled and rolled, and the crowd stood and shouted, the sound growing and growing as the ball kept moving slowly toward the cup. It just missed the hole and settled 6 inches away. Scheffler was back.



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Morikawa then stood in the bunker and hopped in the air to look at the green. He decided to walk out and around to see it from the top. He knew how important this up and down would be. And he didn’t get it out. His bunker shot caught the very tippy top of the steep bunker and rolled back down.

Double bogey for Morikawa. Birdie for Scheffler. Right then and there, Morikawa was done.

Collin Morikawa stumbled in the middle of his round at the Masters. (Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports)

Scheffler was one year above Morikawa in school, but they’re both 27. They’re part of the same generation. Morikawa was the huge prospect who won two majors by the time he was 24. Viktor Hovland was the Oklahoma State phenom playing like a top-20 tour pro from the jump. Matt Fitzpatrick won the U.S. Amateur and turned pro early.

“It was kind of like you had the three guys — Collin, Viktor and Matt — who I guess in the media were kind of the three guys that were looked at to be, like, the next Jordans and JTs and then, like, Jon Rahms and that group of guys,” Scheffler said in August 2023. “And I was kind of on the outside looking in on that little group.”

Now, he’s running away as the player of his generation. By the time Morikawa went for the pin on 11 and found the water, it was clear. There were three remaining.

Homa heard the roars. He heard the sounds of birdies behind him. Homa was in the hunt, 7 under through 11, but Scheffler birdied holes Nos. 8, 9 and 10 to take a two-shot lead at 9 under. Åberg, playing in the second-to-last group with Homa, had double bogeyed 11 to fall four behind. Patrons on the hill kept whispering, “It’s down to Max,” and, “He has to keep this close.”

He walked up the 12th tee to an ovation. Here was the moment every kid dreams up on the range: Sunday at the Masters. At the best par 3 in the world. With a chance to chase down the No. 1 player in the world. He pulled out a 9-iron, the crowd fell to a hush and …

“The honest answer is it didn’t feel fair,” Homa said.

Homa’s ball bounced on the back of the green and took a brutal hop, flying into the shrubbery up the hill. It took multiple people just to find the ball, and it was buried so deep that he had to take an unplayable lie.

“I hit a really good golf shot, and it didn’t feel fair,” Homa said. “I’ve seen far worse just roll back down the hill. Yeah, the professional answer is these things happen.”

What makes it worse? While Homa was finding the ball and chipping, Scheffler took a conservative play behind him on 11 and bogeyed. For roughly 30 seconds, Homa was one shot back. But then Homa’s drop on the downslope meant an impossible chip that didn’t even reach the green. He double bogeyed.

Down went another contender.

Max Homa’s tee shot on hole No. 12 went into the hill, costing him his best chance of winning the Masters. (Adam Cairns / USA Today)

Homa finally broke through at a major. Before this week, he’d never even been in the final five groups during the weekend at a major. He had just two finishes better than T35. But he led this Masters after 36 holes and was in the mix on the back nine Sunday. He just made a mistake, and Scheffler doesn’t make mistakes.

The biggest lesson Scheffler learned from his previous Masters win is not to play conservatively with a lead. Keep attacking. Don’t let them come to you. His drive on the epic par-5 13th went 326 yards down the right side of the fairway and into the rough.

“Should we go for it?” he asked his caddie, Ted Scott.

“I said, ‘Absolutely. Why don’t we do what we do and what we’re good at?’” Scott said. “He’s the best ball-striker in the world.”

Scheffler struck a 4-iron right to the center of the green and easily two-putted for birdie. Homa entered hole No. 12 right in the mix. By the time he finished 14, he was done.

“I haven’t drank in a really, really, really long time,” Homa said, “but I’ve been planning it for Sunday after the Masters, so probably not great. It’ll be all right.”

Ludvig Åberg hung the best he could with Scottie Scheffler on Sunday. (Michael Madrid / USA Today)

Scheffler watched from the top of the hill as his truest foe gave his last gasp at contention.

The youngin wouldn’t die. Åberg hit that approach on No. 11 into the water, a rare mistake for the 24-year-old Swede playing in his first major, to put him three back. But he birdied 13, nearly making eagle. And he birdied 14. When he teed off on the par-5 15th, a scoring hole, he was 7 under and two back of Scheffler. Maybe, just maybe, there was a chance.

His third shot landed just at the top of the fringe on the 15th green. Åberg walked down the famous fairway and around the pond knowing he had to make this to have a chance. But as he rounded the water hazard, he looked up at the grandstand to his left. The crowd rose for him, a thundering, sincere standing ovation as Åberg stood in solo second place at his first Masters. No debutant has won the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.



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Åberg didn’t pretend to be super locked in or block out the noise. No. He enjoyed it. He looked up and smiled, thanking the people in the crowd for their support. They loved him, and he kept walking to the ball like a man who gets it. He knew that no matter how this finished, he was on the right path, the right trajectory, and his future was bright. This was just cool.

As he approached his putt, the scoreboard above the grandstand finally updated. Scheffler had finished the 14th hole. The card for 10 under par went up. Another Scheffler birdie. The crowd gasped.

Åberg hit a soft birdie putt that dropped off the hill and slowly went down the slippery green. It missed by centimeters, and Åberg’s knees buckled in disappointment with a laughing smile. Scheffler could comfortably play the last four holes with a three-shot lead. But he still attacked.

Every human still at Augusta National homed in on Scheffler’s tee shot on 16. This was the last chance for some sort of error. Scheffler pulled out an 8-iron and let it rip. No sitting back. “If I was just trying to make pars the whole back nine, I would have been standing on 18 having to make par and hoping Ludvig would only make a par,” Scheffler said.

The shot landed in the left center of the green and rolled along the slope to curl back to 9 feet. The grandstand roared while also clearing out. It was clear: Scheffler was about to win the Masters for the second time in three years.

Then, he sunk the 9-foot putt anyway. Birdie.

“Good morning, good afternoon and goodnight!” an Englishman shouted from the stands.

Scheffler entered this week as the largest favorite (4-to-1) golf has seen in more than a decade, since Tiger Woods was dominating the sport and entering events at 3-to-1. It was understood that if Scheffler was on his game, he should win.

Yet with 12 holes to go, three of the best golfers in the world had Scheffler on the ropes.

They still didn’t stand a chance.

(Top photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)